How many times have you come across fictional lead detectives or Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs) with no idea where they came from?  It’s almost as if they were born a lead detective or joined the police to automatically become one.

I’m sure that you already know that in the UK,  it isn’t possible and never has been for a person to join the police as a detective, let alone a Senior Investigating Officer.  You’ll no doubt also know that it’s not possible for any old cop to get to those dizzy heights without the right amount and type of experience or training.

Now, if you are reading the nth book in a series, it may be that the SIO’s development and career progression are discussed in earlier book in the series but in all likelihood, there will be no mention of how they got to the pinnacle of their career or what they had to do to become the leader of a complex murder investigation.

The reason that you will come across such instances and maybe even be guilty of doing something similar yourself, is probably because not many authors happen to have a close relationship with a police officer who has years of experience of policing in the UK that they can call upon to answer accurately and reliably, their troubling questions about the police, their policies and procedures.  Maybe no-one has taken the time to explain to you or the writer of the story you are recalling, just what it takes to become an SIO and lead a murder investigation in the UK.

But never fear.  Help is at hand for those of you wanting to learn about what it takes for a police officer to become an SIO and thereby make your lead detective more credible and identify areas where conflict may stem or opportunities arise from.

A Writer’s Guide to Senior Police Investigators in the UK will take you through – A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]

  • What exactly a lead investigator and Senior Investigating Officer is
  • How they become one
  • What training they undertake
  • What 38 qualities and expectations they are expected to exhibit
  • You will find 27 specific ideas of how to take your stories forward and/or create conflict in them
  • There are also hyperlinks to 79 websites or documents that you may find useful in building up your understanding of what a Senior Investigating Officer needs to know and apply during a major investigation.

Not only will this book provide you with details of how a police officer can become a Senior Investigating Officer but it can help with plotting your novel and creating twists and conflict along the way.

It’s crammed full of expert knowledge and advice that you can use to captivate your readers with compelling dialogue and narrative.

Just a couple of the five-star reviews state:

I have never felt compelled to write a review before but in this case I felt it only right to do so. I am an ex-police officer in the middle of writing my first crime-related novel and I have to say how invaluable this book has been to me. I thought I was doing well with my descriptions of procedures and command structures but I cannot believe just how much the job has changed since I left.

If I hadn’t bought a copy of this (I also have the authors other titles) I would have made myself look like a rank amateur stuck somewhere in the 90’s. This book has saved me hours upon hours of research and helped me re-think certain parts of my book and for that alone, thank you Mr Robinson.

I only wish these books were available in paperback format. I’d have a copy of them as well. Call me old fashioned, but I like a book I can flick through and mark up where necessary and as much as Kindle comes close to a book experience it doesn’t really work quite as well with this kind of book in my opinion. That said, no other format allows for hyperlinking to other valuable resources so, swings and roundabouts.

All in all, a superb, densely packed no fluff resource that is worth far, far more than what it is being offered at.

Another great book from retired UK Police Inspector, Kevin N. Robinson! Packed full of useful info – really helpful for anyone with an interest in how the UK police force works, especially with regards to those investigating crime. A gem for writers & crime fiction authors. It’s the little details that make a story authentic and it’s great to have a source which collects all the necessary info, such as what an inspector would normally carry with him (would he have a forensic suit? gloves? what weapons? etc) – particularly for those less familiar with British police (who are quite different from the armed US law enforcement officers you see more commonly on TV!)

Was it laziness; a change in direction or some dark secretive undercover operation?

You may have noticed a distinct reduction in the number of posts I’ve published over the last few months but I can now report that my time hasn’t been wasted in the snooker halls of Yorkshire or the pool halls of some distant land.

Much of my time has been spent helping authors with their police and crime type questions and I’m please to announce that several of them now have their work published and made available via Amazon.  Before you think this is a simple ploy of mine to acquire passive income as an Amazon affiliate or something like that, it isn’t.  I have nothing to gain (other than pride) by letting you know that there are some very good books hitting the market place at the moment where I have been acknowledged as the police advisor to the respective authors.

Without further a do, I’d like to introduce you to them –

Echoes of Justice (DI Matt Turrell Book 2) by JJ Franklin

When Kathy Wylde sets out to take revenge on the gang of youths who kicked her son, Jack, to death, she finds herself on the wrong side of a vicious and dangerous criminal.

As Detective Inspector Matt Turrell, of the Warwickshire Police, investigates the first gang member’s death, another is brutally murdered. DI Turrell and his team must move fast to protect anyone connected to Jack’s murder – including Kathy.

Unaware that she is now the hunted and in grave danger, Kathy selects Harry as her next victim but soon finds herself growing fond of the young man. With the killer drawing close, will the unlikely pair be able to work together in an attempt to survive? Can DI Turrell stop the killer before he strikes again? Or will he have to sacrifice himself to save them?

Echoes of Justice is the second in the series of novels featuring DI Matt Turrell of the Warwickshire Police. It is a psychological thriller/police procedural set in and around Stratford-upon-Avon.

This is JJ Franklin‘s Second novel in the Matt Turrell series, the first one being Urge to Kill

Scared to Tell: Featuring Detective Annie Macpherson by Barbara Fagan Speake

When Belinda Mancuso is found frozen to death in the grounds of her residential unit, it appears to be a tragic accident. Yet this incident comes on top of anonymous reports already circulating about the unit. Suspicions are raised that systematic abuse may be going on in the Elms but there is a conspiracy of silence. Scottish Detective Annie Macpherson, returning to work in Connecticut, is asked to operate undercover in the unit. As the Elms provides respite care mainly for individuals with intellectual disabilities, Annie’s family circumstances make her the obvious choice. Annie has never worked covertly before and the assignment challenges her, on both a personal and a professional level.

Ellie Harrington is looking for a final project to complete her degree in journalism. When the opportunity arises to do voluntary work in the Oaks, a sister unit to the Elms, she can’t resist. While spending time there conducting interviews, her journalistic instincts tell her something is wrong, very wrong.

For both women, ascertaining what is really going on behind closed doors becomes the highest priority but will Ellie Harrington’s naïve enthusiasm jeopardise the work that Annie is doing? Could both women find themselves in grave danger from a very powerful and ruthless set of conspirators? At the core of it, are the vulnerable residents simply too scared to tell their stories?

This is Barbara’s fourth book in the Detective Annie Macpherson series of books

A Scone to Die for by H.Y. Hanna

When an American tourist is murdered with a scone in Gemma Rose’s quaint Oxfordshire tearoom, she suddenly finds herself apron-deep in a mystery involving long-buried secrets from Oxford’s past.

Armed with her insider knowledge of the University and with the help of four nosy old ladies from the village (not to mention a cheeky little tabby cat named Muesli), Gemma sets out to solve the mystery—all while dealing with her matchmaking mother and the return of her old college love, Devlin O’Connor, now a dashing CID detective.

But with the body count rising and her business going bust, can Gemma find the killer before things turn to custard?
(*Traditional English scone recipe included)

This is the first book in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series.

 

Tea with Milk and Murder by H.Y. Hanna

While at an Oxford cocktail party, tearoom owner Gemma Rose overhears a sinister conversation minutes before a University student is fatally poisoned. Could there be a connection? And could her best friend Cassie’s new boyfriend have anything to do with the murder?

Gemma decides to start her own investigation, helped by the nosy ladies from her Oxfordshire village and her old college flame, CID detective Devlin O’Connor. But her mother is causing havoc at Gemma’s quaint English tearoom and her best friend is furious at her snooping… and this mystery is turning out to have more twists than a chocolate pretzel!

Too late, Gemma realises that she’s could be the next item on the killer’s menu. Or will her little tabby cat, Muesli, save the day?
(** Velvet Cheesecake recipe included!)

This is the second book in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series.

 

Spare me the Truth by CJ Carver

Dan Forrester, piecing his life back together after the tragic death of his son, is approached in a supermarket by a woman who tells him everything he remembers about his life – and his son – is a lie.

Grace Reavey, stricken by grief, is accosted at her mother’s funeral. The threat is simple: pay the staggering sum her mother allegedly owed, or lose everything.

Lucy Davies has been forced from the Met by her own maverick behaviour. Desperate to prove herself in her new rural post, she’s on the hunt for a killer – but this is no small town criminal.

Plunged into a conspiracy that will test each of them to their limits, these three strangers are brought together in their hunt for the truth, whatever it costs. And as their respective investigations become further and further entwined, it becomes clear that at the centre of this tangled web is a threat more explosive than any of them could have imagined.

CJ Carver has published seven other novels and this is the first in the Dan Forrester series.

To see details of all of the published authors I have helped and with which books, please visit the Supported Books link at the top of this Page

Finally I must mention that I have also been tied up putting together the updated and expanded British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016, which you can acquire by clicking on the link above or the image below.

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

AvailBPCD 2016 Cover on Amazonable from March 2016 is the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016.  Not only have the links in the 2015 edition been checked and verified but over 70 pages of extra links have been added.  This now means that you have immediate access to contact details of the 72 police and other law enforcement agencies and departments; more than 350 manuals, documents and guides about the police, investigating crime and criminals; 85 websites that provide you with other exciting and useful information; 69 video clips to increase your understanding and knowledge about the police at work; 42 social media links that will keep you updated and informed, along with links to 85 books about the police, policing, crime and writing crime fiction that you will find invaluable.

Go down the traditional publishing route and you will find an editor telling you to get your policing facts checked out: go down the self publishing route and its down to your own self-discipline and professionalism.

You will find that most bestselling authors have conducted meticulous research or employed someone to do it for them.

Using this book, you will no longer find it difficult or time-consuming to locate the facts about the police in the UK, that you need for your novel.

You don’t need to spend time and effort tracking down a reliable source of information. You can free yourself from futile research.

You can save time wasted looking for facts you can trust and focus on what you do best – writing.

Treat yourself to the latest edition of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers and turn yourself from a nervous, unsure novice to a confident, knowledgeable, professional author.

Please feel free to share this news with your friends and colleagues.

There are two telephone numbers associated with contacting the police in the UK.  In an emergency we are told to call 999 and in non-urgent cases to use the 101 number but many face the dilemma of not really understanding what constitutes an emergency or non-emergency.

Warwickshire Police have done a nice job in providing a simple guide explaining when to use which number and to save you searching for their information, I have reproduced it below –

When should I use 999 (or the alternative emergency number 112)?

999 is for reporting emergency situations only; below is a helpful mnemonic to remember when to use it.

P Phone 999 only ifImage result for 101

O Offenders are nearby

L Life is at risk

I Injury is caused or threatened

C Crime or disorder is in progress

E Emergency situations

When should I use 101?

  • if you’ve had a minor traffic collision
  • if your property has been damaged
  • if your car has been stolen
  • if you suspect drug dealing
  • if you’ve witnessed a crime
  • if you have information about criminals in your local area
  • if you’ve seen a missing person
  • if you need crime prevention advice
  • if you want to speak to a local police officer/ your local Safer Neighbourhood Team
  • if you want to speak to the police about any other incident that doesn’t require an immediate response
  • if you want to make us aware of any policing issues in your local area

Now that you know, feel free to pass it on to your friends and family or include it in one of your stories.

You can find more information about the police by following the links in the updated and expanded British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016, which you can acquire by clicking on the link above or the image below.

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact Cover

 

In Part 1, we looked at how a police interview with a suspect in a police station should commence.  If you missed Part 1, you can review it here.

This post looks at what MUST be said next by the interviewing officer.  If they fail to say these words or others that describe the same thing in simpler terms for someone unable to understand the phraseology, anything said that may be used as evidence against the suspect, may and probably would be excluded from any subsequent court case.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING. BUT IT MAY HARM YOUR DEFENCE IF YOU DO NOT MENTION WHEN QUESTIONED SOMETHINGPolice interview YOU LATER RELY ON IN COURT. ANYTHING YOU DO SAY MAY BE GIVEN IN EVIDENCE.

This can be broken down as follows, to ensure the suspect understands:

• You do not have to answer my questions.

• However, should this matter go to court and you tell the court something which you could have reasonably told me during this interview, the court may be less likely to believe you and that could harm your defence.

• The tapes of this interview may be played in court, so the court will be able to hear what you have said.

Only after the introduction in Part 1 and this Caution are said to the suspect, can the interview start in earnest.  Failure to address either part may render any information, evidence or admission that subsequently comes to light in the interview, may be excluded from the prosecution case put before the court.  Therefore, if there is no corroborating evidence to the confession, the case may well be thrown out of court, if it ever gets there in the first place.

For more information you may find useful, follow the links in the updated and expanded British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016, which you can acquire by clicking on the link above or the image below.

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact Cover

If you are going to have your fictional suspect interviewed in the police station, you will need to know what should be said at the start of the interview.

The Recorded Interview Aide Memoire produced by the College of Policing advises the following:

This interview is being taped recorded and may be given in evidence if your case is brought to trial.

We are in an interview room at (police station name).Police interview

The date is (date) and the time by my watch is (time).

I am (rank and name).

The other police officer(s) present is/are (rank and name).

Please state your full name and date of birth.

Also present is (solicitor, appropriate adult, interpreter).

Do you agree that there are no other persons present? (Yes or no).  (Where appropriate adult present) You are not here to act simply as an observer. Your role here is to advise (suspect), facilitate communication and ensure that the interview is conducted fairly.

(To the suspect) Before the start of this interview – I must remind you that you are entitled to free and independent legal advice either in person or by telephone at any stage (regardless of whether or not a solicitor is present). Do you wish to speak to a legal advisor now or have one present during the interview? (If no, ask for reasons.)

At the conclusion of the interview, I will give you a notice explaining what will happen to the tapes (or recording where digital rather than taped) and how you and/or your solicitor can get access to them.

Watch out for the next post that explains what should be said after this introduction or if you can’t wait, you could always seek out  the answer  using the updated and expanded British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016, which you can acquire by clicking on the link above or the image below.

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

Further tips can be garnered from 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.218 Fact Cover

 

News reports can be a good source of ideas for a writer.  You don’t need to use them straight away but if you at least file them away in a “useful ideas” type of book or journal, when the old writer’s block comes along, you will have something to draw upon to bust out of that temporal paralysis.

One of those useful reports could include this one from the Echo, which tells us that the Minority Report is Here – alive and well in Essex, England, of all places.  Have a look at it and see if it can be of use to you.

The second report comes from the Blackpool Gazette and describes how dog walkers are being enlisted by the local police to help tackle crime.  Read HERE to get ideas for your own stories or to give you clues as to how you can incorporate a dog walker into your next project.

You can find more information on other issues by following the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover

 

If like me, you find it easy to assimilate information when it is presented visually, then I am sure you will find the following link (below in Bold) very interesting.  If you aren’t visually inclined, there is some text on it too that you will also find useful.  Many authors spend much thinking time figuring out how they are going to dispose of the bodies (fictionally speaking of course) and get away with murder.  The linked infographic depicts 10 Ways to Cover Up a Murder.  Just don’t try it in real life.  I won’t vouch for you at your trial.

The second item produced by the Metro, describes just What Happens to a Human Body After Death. BE WARNED – IT IS GRAPHIC but it gets the points across in an easily understandable way.  The points it alludes to may just come in handy when you have a body found in your stories.

For more information you may find useful, follow the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover

 

Not everyone has the time or freedom to trawl the internet for websites that may provide information that could influence the story they are currently working on or thinking about writing in the future, so I thought I’d show you three websites that have a useful article on them (at least one).

The first comes courtesy of DR J.H Byrd who has put together the Forensic Entomology website to educate others with regard to insects found at crime scenes, particularly murders.  The information provided will prove useful to crime fiction writers worldwide, especially the Information and Life Cycles pages.

The second website I thought I’d direct you to is NursingFeed (it’s not about breast milk v formula).  Here you will find a very useful infographic on the Forensic Science Behind the Bruise Healing Process, which may help when you are trying to describe bruising in your story and how it relates to the time between infliction and description.

The third and final offering for today is from Skeleton Keys website, run by Jen J. Danna – Forensic Crime Writer who has published information about Recent Advances in Fingerprinting. Here she updates us on 4 aspects of fingerprinting that you may be able to introduce in one of your stories.

You can find more information that you may find useful by following the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover

 

What follows are links (underlined in Bold) to three items that have recently been in the media.  I bring them to your attention because they may have an impact upon your current or future Work(s) in Progress.

The first news item comes courtesy of Digital Forensic News and describes how Rhode Island State Police are using a Police Dog to Sniff Out Child Porn Hard Drives. Could your story include such a canine detective?  It may not be just like this one; you may have your own ideas that you’d like to share on this post.

The second news item relates to the analysis of DNA and a how a murderer appeared to travel in time. The Time Travel Murder.  You may want to consider something similar to this as a way of misleading your fictional police investigation or causing the wrongful arrest of an innocent person.  There are many other ideas that you may well come up with after reading the report.   You may even want to share some of them, no matter how off-the-wall they may sound.

The third and final news item (for now) comes from Scientific America.  It is similar to the earlier link but focuses on arson and asks Can We Trust Crime Forensics? Please bear in mind that it is US based but still may have some bearing on your crime of choice.  Maybe you have heard of some similar concerns that you’d like to share via this blog.   If so, please feel free to add your comments below.

If you’d like to find more interesting facts, following the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover

 

 

PPE not PPI is the acronym under discussion here.

Every police officer is equipped with PPE, otherwise known as Personal Protective Equipment. When responding to an incident, particularly if it is expected to be of a violent nature, the control room or the officer’s supervisor will ask the attending officer if they have possession of their “full PPE.”  Generally they will be in possession of the whole lot so they can minimise the risk of injury to themselves and facilitate the arrest of a violent offender.

Personal Protective equipment includes a police radio, body armour, utility belt, baton, handcuffs, CS or Pepper spray and in some cases a helmet (although these tend not to be worn or carried today by officers in many forces throughout the country).

I am often asked whether or not detectives have access to PPE items.  They are issued with the same equipment as their uniformed colleagues.  The differences are that their baton tends to be smaller and carried more discreetly in a harness rather than on a utility belt and the incapacitant spray may well be carried in a pocket rather than a pouch on a utility belt.  Also, detectives tend to leave their equipment at the office, safe in the knowledge that if they attend a potentially violent incident, they can call upon their uniformed colleagues to deal with the matter for them.  A detective will rarely go alone or in pairs to arrest a violent subject.  It wouldn’t be safe. Instead, they co-opt the services of one or more uniformed officers.  In many cases, the sight of an officer in uniform can be enough to discourage a suspect from acting violently.  In other cases, the sight of a police uniform can be as bad as the proverbial “red rag to a bull.”

Most detectives will carry their police radio rather than rely on a mobile telephone.  The radio gives them instant access to the control room, their colleagues and help if they need it.  The signal is more reliable than that of a mobile telephone  and the communications are encrypted.

Officers can only carry and use a baton, handcuffs and incapacitant spray if they have been trained in their use and have refreshed their skills on a training course recently (usually every 12 to 24 months).  Officers are not routinely authorised to take their PPE home as the baton cuffs and spray are classed as offensive weapons that they are only allowed to carry whilst on duty.

Are your officers going to be carrying their PPE or will they either forget to pick it up or decline to carry it for reasons such as the body armour is heavy and cumbersome.

You can find more information about their use by following the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover

 

You’re currently putting your story together and you’ve just described the crime scene. There’s blood present, which is believed to belong to the suspect.  You get your forensic examiners to analyse the blood sample that they think belongs to the suspect.  They tell your fictional detective that they have extracted the suspect’s DNA but that it doesn’t match anyone recorded on the DNA database so without further information, they still have no idea who the suspect may be.

However, based on the latest research findings from  the KU Leuven Forensic Biomedical Sciences Unit in Belgium, it is now possible to predict the age of a suspect or unidentified body from a sample of their blood, rather than merely extracting DNA from the blood to check against the DNA Database.

Scientists from KU Leuven have developed the test which predicts an individuals’ age on the basis of blood or teeth samples. This test may be particularly useful for the police, as it can help track down criminals or identify human remains.

The aging process is regulated by our DNA and human tissues and organs change as we grow older.

Professor Bram Bekaert from the KU Leuven Forensic Biomedical Sciences Unit explains: “The behaviour of our organs and tissues depends on which of our genes are activated. As we grow older, some genes are switched on, while others are switched off. This process is partly regulated by methylation, whereby methyl groups are added to our DNA. In specific locations, genes with high methylation levels are deactivated.”

Bekaert and his colleagues were able to predict an individuals’ age on the basis of a set of four age-associated DNA methylation markers. The methylation levels of these markers can be used for highly accurate age predictions. The researchers were able to determine an individuals’ age with a margin of error of 3.75 years for blood samples and 4.86 years for teeth.  More information can be found at http://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2015/blood-and-teeth-predict-age

The new technique is potentially useful in the context of police investigations because it can help determine the age of criminals or unidentified bodies, which in turn can lead to identification.

Remember this little fact when putting your story together if it is being based on now and the near future.  It’s pretty useless for stories set in the past.

If you want to read more interesting facts, don’t forget to buy yourself a copy of 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police available on Amazon by clicking the title above or on the picture of the cover to the right.218 Fact Cover

Not only will you get 218 facts, you’ll also see 40 story ideas based on those facts in 36 different areas of policing.

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • the organisation of the police
  • crime scene attendance, assessment and investigation
  • police intelligence work
  • police interviews
  • custody suite issues
  • the role of the Senior Investigating Officer

Use 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police to make your stories realistic, to provide you with ideas you’d never thought of before and best of all, to prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your readers.

If you think your friends or colleagues would find the book useful, please let them know about it.

Do you want to explore serious and serial crime investigations.?  nottinghamwritersstudio.co.uk

Do you want to hear how crime scenes are processed?

Do you want to find out who does what and how leads are developed and followed?

If your work features any type of crime (committing or solving) , join me for an enlightening evening on 28th September 2015 at 1900 – 2100 for the very first Learn Crime From the Experts course run by the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, 25 Hockley, Nottingham, NG1 1FH.

This is the very first of a series of expert talks organised by the Nottingham Writers’ Studio that will help your work stand out and ensure you get the crucial details right.

Further details are available from the Nottingham Writers’ Studio

If you can’t make it, maybe buy yourself a copy 218 Fact Coverof 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police available on Amazon by clicking the title above or on the picture of the cover to the right.

Not only will you get 218 facts, you’ll also see 40 story ideas based on those facts in 36 different areas of policing.

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • the organisation of the police
  • crime scene attendance, assessment and investigation
  • police intelligence work
  • police interviews
  • custody suite issues
  • the role of the Senior Investigating Officer

Use 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police to make your stories realistic, to provide you with ideas you’d never thought of before and best of all, to prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your readers.

If you think your friends or colleagues would find the book useful, please let them know about it.

Happy and informed reading.

Not just 218 facts but also 40 ideas to take your story forward in 36 different areas of policing.

My latest book, 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police is now available on Amazon. 218 Fact Cover For the next 10 days, it will be available at a discounted price so get your very own copy by clicking the title above or on the picture of the cover to the right.

You may be wondering why you should part with less than the cost of a coffee from one of the many famous chains, to own your own copy of this unique and useful book.  Some of you, when you examine the preview on Amazon may even conclude that the book is merely a collection of posts from this blog.  Let me allay your suspicions.  It is not.  This blog has shaped the idea of the book and does cover some of this blog’s topics but in much more detail and you will the book provides 40 ideas of how you could take your stories further using the associated facts and provided web links.

These 40 story ideas based on 218 facts in 36 different areas  of policing will both educate and stimulate your creative inclinations.

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • the organisation of the police
  • crime scene attendance, assessment and investigation
  • police intelligence work
  • police interviews
  • custody suite issues
  • the role of the Senior Investigating Officer

If you don’t want to make mistakes with your fiction and you don’t have a police adviser in your pocket or hanging at the end of a telephone call just dying to answer the question that you feel really stupid for having to ask, buy this book.  I’ve put it together to save you the time you’d have to spend conducting the research (even if you knew where to look in the first place) or having to flatter, coerce or bribe a police officer who has sufficient experience to provide you with accurate and up to date information along with a series of ideas for taking your story forward.

Use 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police to make your stories realistic, to provide you with ideas you’d never thought of before and best of all, to prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your readers.

If you find the book useful, please let your friends and colleagues know about it and a positive review is always most welcome.  If however, you felt that the book failed to meet your expectations or you found a mistake or dead link, just drop me a line at “the(dot)writer(AT)hotmail.co.uk” Don’t forget to swap the dot and AT for their respective characters.

Happy and informed reading.

A coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed by a local council.  They usually have a legal background and will also be familiar with medical terminology.

Coroners investigate deaths that have been reported to them if it appears that:coronercrest.jpg

  • the death was violent or unnatural
  • the cause of death is unknown, or
  • the person died in prison, police custody or another type of state detention.

The purpose of the investigation is to find out, for the benefit of bereaved people and for official records, who has died, how, when and where.

If an investigation is determined necessary, a pathologist will normally carry out a post-mortem examination of the body.  Where the post-mortem identifies the cause of death, the coroner will send a form to the Registrar of Births and Deaths stating the cause of death.  The coroner must release the body as soon as possible, after which a funeral can be arranged. 

If it was not possible to find out the cause of death from the post-mortem examination or the death is found to be unnatural, the coroner has to hold an inquest. An inquest is a

fact-finding process, held in public court by the coroner in order to establish who died and how, when and where the death occurred.  The inquest will be held as soon as possible and normally within 6 months of the death if at all possible.

If the death occurred in prison or custody or if it resulted from an accident at work, there will usually be a jury at the inquest.

The coroner (or jury where there is one) comes to a conclusion at the end of the inquest.  This includes the legal ‘determination’, which states who died, where, when and how. The coroner or jury also makes ‘findings’ to allow the cause of death to be registered. When recording the cause the coroner or jury may use one of the following terms:

  • accident or misadventure
  • alcohol/drug related
  • industrial disease
  • lawful killing
  • unlawful killing
  • natural causes
  • open
  • road traffic collision
  • stillbirth
  • suicide

The coroner or jury may also make a brief ‘narrative’ conclusion setting out the facts surrounding the death in more detail and explaining the reasons for the decision.

If a person doesn’t agree with the Coroner’s conclusion, they may challenge their decision or conclusion but they should do this as soon as possible as for some challenges there is a three-month limit.

As you can see:

  1. the coroner does not attend a crime scene to collect forensic evidence,
  2. nor do they carry out a post-mortem

so don’t be caught out letting your fictional coroner do any of these things.

The latest Coroner’s statistics can be found HERE

The Coroners’ Society of England and Wale can be found HERE

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One of the key positions in any police Intelligence Cell is that of the analyst.  Their role is vital in any major investigation where they can even be a part of the Senior Investigating Officer’s management team.

The analyst can be a police officer but most forces employ civilian analysts.  Their primary role is to receive information and to convert it into intelligence through analysis.

Seven of the most common tasks they may undertake include:

  • Conducting environmental scanning of the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal and Organisational (PESTELO) issues to provide an overview of the environment as it relates to the commission of the crime or is likely to affect the subsequent investigation;
  • Drawing networks of associates of both a victim and potential or actual suspect;
  • Telephone call analysis, charting specific telephones to assist with identifying associations between telephones and the patterns of calls involved;
  • Analysing local and regional crime and incident patterns to identify similar offences and/or precursor incident;
  • Analysing a series of crimes and identifying common denominators between different, possibly linked crimes;
  • Drawing charts of (possibly) significant events including a suspect/victim’s sequence of events chart and an extended sequence of events specific to a particular suspect;
  • Analysing prison intelligence; communications intelligence; intelligence from surveillance and undercover operations.

Could you use an analyst in your crime fiction?

You can find more information to help your story-writing by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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Intelligence Units can play an essential role in any major investigations such as murder or serial rape.  In such instances, they are usually based within the Major Incident Room.  An Intelligence Cell or Unit will not be present in all major investigations but will be included where the investigation is complex.  The Cell may be located with the main investigation team or may be based somewhere else such as at the force headquarters.  This possibility tends to hinder the effectiveness of the Cell.

Regardless of its location, the Cell should have easy access to all the documentation that comes into the Major Incident Room. Where this is not the case, their capability becomes impaired.

Intelligence cells can be directed to undertake a wide range of tasks including the processing of information, providing information to support management decisions or influencing the direction of operations.

The Intelligence Cell should be in a position to provide or obtain for the Senior Investigating Officer, intelligence and analytical products, which will assist in the investigation and the understanding of the enquiry at hand.

Five of the most common tasks undertaken by the Intelligence Cell include:

  • Conduct research on related lines of enquiry such as previous police calls to premises or locations; the use of premises or locations; relevant prison releases; custody records for potential suspects;
  • Search of database of offences using similar MO;
  • Identification of associations between people or scenes, or prior knowledge of people/scenes;
  • Searching of significant data bases based upon parameters set by the SIO for example:
    • Police National Computer (Phoenix application) (PNC)
    • Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency
    • CATCHEM (Child Murder and Abduction Database)
    • Police National Database (PND)
  • Liaise with Force Intelligence Units and the intelligence bureaux of other forces and the National Crime Agency (NCA) etc.

Have you got your Intelligence Cell doing the things they should be doing so that the detectives can get out onto the streets to do what they do best?

You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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Intelligence Units are a standard component of any Police Division, Force or Regional Team.  They also play an essential role in any major investigations such as murder or serial rape.  In such instances, they are usually based within the Major Incident Room.

Major Incident Room Intelligence Cells require suitable accommodation, IT, communications and clerical support and must be staffed with appropriately trained personnel, which may include an Intelligence Manager, an Analyst, Researchers and Field Intelligence Officers.  The exact numbers required will vary from one investigation to the other.  The more complex, the greater the overall investigative team, the more intelligence staff will be employed.

Intelligence Manager

The Intelligence Manager is likely to be an Inspector with experience of running an intelligence cell or unit at any of the three levels of complexity.  It is possible but not recommended that they may also be acting as an Informant Controller.

As the manager, they are responsible for the management and supervision of the cell, its staff and liaising directly with the SIO on intelligence and analytical matters.

Analyst

The analyst can be a police officer but most forces employ civilian analysts.  This has both advantages and disadvantages.  A police officer will be experienced in and familiar with many aspects of policing and the requirements of the law and law enforcement.  However, unlike their civilian counterpart, police officers acting as analysts can be too focussed on fact and evidence.  Civilian analysts are more comfortable formulating hypotheses (or guessing) and do not feel constrained by evidential principles.

The analyst’s primary role is to receive information and to convert it into intelligence through analysis.  Think of finding a few jigsaw pieces and coming up with what the complete picture should look like.  This description can sum up what the analyst should be doing.  However, some are not held in such high regard by some Senior Investigating Officers and some other police officers who merely see the analyst as a person that sits at a computer all day and sometimes draws charts or plots things on maps.  This perception is flawed and narrow-minded.  Watch out for a future post listing some of the functions they do perform.

Researcher

The Intelligence Cell is tasked with lots of research that can be conducted from an office rather than from the field and so the researcher is likely to be a constable or civilian employee with research experience.  They will have excellent IT skills and understanding of databases available to them.  The general idea is that researchers pull together information to be analysed by the Analyst.  They can also be tasked with putting together briefing and intelligence packages and products.

Field Intelligence Officers

Field Intelligence Officers (FIOs) are invariably Police Constable rather than detectives and their primary role is to go out and gather information that the researcher or analyst can’t from the comfort and confinement of their offices.  So the obtaining of financial records or statements from banks may be collected by an FIO where they are not available electronically to the researcher.

So, have you managed to get your fictional intelligence cell right or will you now consider using one in your stories?

You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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A pathologist may only play a fleeting part in your story or they may well be the main character but if you don’t know enough about how they become one, what their relationship is to a criminal investigation or what they do to assist that investigation, you may well be getting them and your story wrong.

Read on to find what you need to know to get them right in your story.

A pathologist (sometimes referred to as a forensic pathologist) is a medically qualified doctor, registered by the General Medical Council, licensed to practice and educated at post-graduate level in histopathology (the study of the effects of disease on the body) and forensic pathology.

Those suitably qualified apply to be registered with The Home Office Pathology Delivery Board and if successful are designated as “A member of the Home Secretary’s Register of Forensic Pathologists”.

Once registered, they must work within ‘group practices’ comprising at least three forensic pathologists who jointly provide post-mortem services within a defined geographical region. The group practices must provide a forensic post-mortem service 24 hours a day and 365 day a year for their region.   The pathologists don’t work set 9 to 5 hours as the number of cases seen each day varies throughout the country, however the latest protocol agreed with the Home Office limits the working period to 120 hours in any 14 day period.

Many forensic pathologists are self-employed but some are employed, full or part-time in the National Health Service (NHS) or University hospitals.

When the police request a pathologist to attend the scene of a suspicious death, they are ‘briefed’ as to the circumstances of the case by the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) or their representative.   Together with the SIO, crime scene investigators and forensic scientists, they agree a strategy for approaching the body, collecting trace evidence from and around it and ultimately the recovery of the body from the scene.

At the scene, the pathologist will examine the body, noting its disposition, the surroundings in which it lies and the presence of injuries that can be seen without disturbing the body or the scene. Many pathologists also supervise recovery of the body by crime scene investigators and funeral directors.

They carry out the post-mortem in an approved mortuary (usually attached to an NHS hospital).  Their examination is directed towards answering the general and specific questions about the cause of death and providing any other information that may help progress the criminal investigation e.g. where someone clearly dies of a gunshot wound to the head, the contents of the victim’s stomach may help identify the time they last ate and what it was they consumed.  Such information may help narrow down the investigative time parameters and lead to the place where they last ate.

The external examination of the body may take several hours due to its immense significance in a suspicious death post-mortem.   Every organ and body cavity is examined in detail.  Samples of organs and injuries are taken for microscopy and samples of body fluids are retained for toxicology.  Each stage of the examination is documented and photographed.  All significant findings, both positive and negative are recorded. The subsequent report is made available to the SIO, Coroner and defence lawyers.  The pathologist may then have to attend court to give evidence at the trial of the accused.

You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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